Category Archives: blogging

Presentation Overhaul: Prezi Online Presentation Software

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It is often challenging to find interesting ways to present business data. Whether it’s a live meeting or online presentation, customers expect to be engaged visually.

When I recently had the opportunity to experiment with Prezi Online Presentation Software using content from a previous Powerpoint, I was blown away with the ease of use and wanted to share what I learned.

Prezi is a visually appealing and engaging, motion-filled and fluid presentation format.  I created a free online public account while I experimented with the software, but the cost for the software is very reasonable with a basic plan under $5 per month. As a freelance consultant and entrepreneur, I understand the need for finding affordable technology to remain relevant in a digital-driven social media marketplace. Prezi offers an easy, dynamic, and cost-effective method for freelancers, entrepreneurs and small business owners.

If you are already savvy with maneuvering PowerPoint or catch on to software quickly, Prezi is a breeze to use.  I played around with it for a little over an hour using one of their templates until I had something I felt satisfied with presenting to my client for their preview.  Obviously, you need to already have the content you want to put into the presentation.  I used content from an existing PowerPoint to create mine, which probably made my learning curve easier.  I would suggest using the same method until you are familiar with navigating Prezi, but otherwise it’s just a cooler and more effective way of formatting and presenting data and information.

So here are my highlights:

  • Prezi works from an open canvas environment with options to use their pre-set paths or build your own.
  • Once you set up an account (public account is free but your files are accessible to anyone), choose from a library of reusable prezis or templates, and just have at it.
  • The software is simple to navigate with options to change backgrounds, shapes and colors to incorporate your company’s brand image.
  • As you build your prezi, the graphic and visual features allow you to zoom and pan through text, emphasizing main points and key information.
  • You can add and edit images directly onto the canvas.
  • Because it is cloud-based program, the presentation can be accessed remotely on a tablet, phone or PC, and it allows for ease of collaboration with others in real-time.

Here’s a preview of a Prezi template that you may enjoy.  Would love to hear your thoughts or feedback from your Prezi experience; submit comments below:

7 Budget-Friendly Marketing Strategies

© Piotr Majka | Dreamstime Stock Photos |Glass Jar With Coins

© Piotr Majka | Dreamstime Stock Photos |Glass Jar With Coins

As an entrepreneur, you could have the finest service or product on the planet, but if customers never discover it, your startup is going to face rough waters. Every business requires marketing, but it shouldn’t cause you to bust your budget. The following handy and economical suggestions will help you get your message out without squeezing you dry:

1. Conduct Your Own Market Research.

              Prepare a compilation of your customers’ questions, needs and issues. While you’re at it, record basic demographic information, such as gender, age and status. This will bolster your efforts to sharpen your marketing message so that it directly addresses your customers’ needs.

2. Ungarble Your Message.

                            Don’t throw away resources on elaborate collateral without first developing a clear, concise message. If the average Jack or Jill doesn’t “get” your message, then simplify it. Clarity rules

3. Inexpensive Public Relations.

Do things that will burn your business’ persona into the public’s consciousness. Make sure to volunteer your services or products at charity events, publish blog articles written by you or by respected guest bloggers, write favorable comments on other blog sites, and get involved in civic and networking activities.

4. Try a Small Marketing Agency.

                Engage a small marketing agency and monitor its advice for effectiveness. A small agency well understands your budget constraints– it no doubt has its own constraints — but nonetheless must cough up innovative, exciting concepts that will goose your business. If you aren’t happy, give another agency a shot, but only after allotting enough time to the first one to fairly judge their results.

5. Marketing Advice for Free.

        Internet blogs like this one that you are reading at this very instant offer prized information freely. A library (real or virtual) is another cost-efficient resource. Here’s another idea: marketing agencies frequently provide a free initial consultation — you can learn a lot without making any commitments.

6. Word-of-Mouth.

      Few types of marketing are more efficient than is word of mouth. Energize your customers to talk up your business by offering contests, raffles, and loyalty programs, as well as personalized solutions and superlative service. Recruit your happy customers to send out “the word.” Many people love to do this — you have only but to ask

7. Pamper Your Vendors.

    A happy vendor can enhance your business, but an unhappy vendor can be ruinous. Always pay vendors on time! In fact, a better tactic is to pay them in advance. If they want to be your friends, they will gladly endorse you, especially if you reciprocate.
        As you can see, there are many opportunities to adopt inexpensive marketing ideas for your business. You may experience slow results at first, but stay focused and intentional to reap benefits well in excess of the money you spent.

Expanding Your Entrepreneurial Expertise With An eBook

Something that is growing in popularity for anyone with any type of expertise is the creation of an eBook, the digital equivalent of a printed book. Even 2016 political hopefuls are turning to this publishing format to engage their constituencies and share stories as they gear up for the campaign trails, according to Politico.  This should not be surprising with the growth of technology and development of digital applications for the increased consumer use of mobile devices.

Image found on Pinterest
Image found on Pinterest

 

Why An eBook?

A business eBook is generally a success guide or how to information written in an easy-to-digest, short format that is read on a computer, e-reader, tablet or even a mobile phone with an e-reader app. E-books are also a very popular lead generation tool for internet marketers who offer eBooks as free download products from their websites.

What makes eBooks so cool is that a) anyone can write one if they have expertise, something of interest to share, or unique idea or concept, and b) with the fast growth rate of self-publishing,  it is simple and cost effective to produce and distribute digitally. Bowkers, a publishing management company and the official ISBN agency in the United States, reported that self-published titles have increased 59% over the past two to three years and credit this growth to the ease of convenience of self-publishing, which can be found with sites such as CreateSpace, Smashwords and Lulu.

The benefit of having an eBook for an entrepreneur is increased visibility, exposure as an expert, and gaining a new title as published author.  Also common with some entrepreneurs is to write a series of eBooks and offer them as a package for a small cost, such as the eBook package on wisdom and insights offered by popular website, Tiny Buddha.

An Easy Process to Begin

An easy way to write an eBook is to use your blog format to serve as the foundation for a larger eBook project.  One idea is to share meaningful information with your audience and then publish most popular posts while expanding on ideas in an eBook format.  This process allows the author to write with a narrow focus and to begin capturing their initial thought process in an online format.

There is no need to fret if writing is not a strong skill, because many published books are produced by a ghostwriter, a writing professional who works with the author or expert subject matter to develop the book concept and write the content. Because self-publishing and eBooks have become so popular, hiring a writer has also become an affordable option, and with a little research and due diligence, there are many traditional (writing services, creative agencies) and non-traditional resources (Elance and Craigslist) for hiring experienced and accomplished writers that will work with all budgets and produce a great product.

???????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????A ghostwriter can draft the entire eBook from scratch or work from an outline or written notes in consultation with the content expert. Another option is to document with a voice recorder, hire a transcriptionist through a virtual assistant service to transcribe your recording, and then an experienced writer/editor to review the written document for structure, context, grammar and spelling.  The key for a successful eBook (besides the marketing) is that the topic is interesting and the content is well-written, informative and engaging.

When Less is Effective and Smart

Lastly, an eBook can be short in nature with as little as 10,000 words. That may not sound like much but in actuality, it equates to a short story and in eBook format may be 20 pages, just enough to capture your audience’s attention and share salient information. This is more doable than it may sound and can be completed in less than 30 days.  A longer eBook project, like say a biography or novel will be more in depth with more than 50,000 words and will take longer to write and finalize, but can still be done within months.

Depending on entrepreneurial and professional goals, an eBook can be an effective marketing tool that helps to build and brand your business and expand reach and influence as an expert in your field, as well as the residual benefit of a passive income stream once the eBook is published and properly marketed.

Does The Company Blog Fit Into The Business Model?

Image: iStockphoto

Image: iStockphoto

If you are a busy executive or even a solopreneur, someone else is probably managing the blogging process for you (hopefully as part of a larger social media strategy).  In a corporate environment, that may be the communications department.  For a small business, it may be a marketing intern. Regardless of who is doing the blogging, what is most essential is to ensure well written, timely and relevant content and ensure that it factors into the company’s image and brand.  The worst thing that could happen is for a story to be posted that is offensive, rude, off topic, or not remotely reflective of the organization’s culture.  So here are a few administrative things to consider:

  • What is Your Approval Process? Will blog posts be made blindly or is there an approval process to review content before posting? Is there a communications plan or strategy in place that aligns to the larger corporate goals.  If so, blog posts should relate to the bigger picture and create value that furthers the business goals.
  • Will the Boss Be Pleased? It’s easy and oftentimes natural for a writer to be clever in their writing, but does the tone of the blog posts reflect the culture of the organization? Would the boss be pleased or embarrassed?  Maybe in a small organization, it is easy to run blog posts by the boss, but in a larger organization, be mindful that what is written about the company is a reflection of the person most visible in the company.
  • Is There Regular and Consistent Content? Whenever you read an article about blogging (or social media period), you will constantly hear about good content.  That’s because you have to give people good information if you want them to visit often.  One way to do that is to publish regularly and consistently.  If your goal is once a week on Friday, make sure you stick to the schedule because your followers become accustomed to reading, especially if the content is good. For instance, I remember looking forward to a newsletter / blog posts from a humorous entertainment update each Friday before I left work.  I had accustomed to reading the stories and winding my day down for the weekend and would purposefully seek it out in my email.  When I couldn’t find it, well, I was a lot disappointed.  You never know when your content is appealing to someone and they are looking forward to the updates.  It’s easier for them when they know when to expect your information.

In conclusion, creating a blog can be a useful tool for sharing company news, marketing a product, or engaging a target audience. But one key factor for blogging is determining whether this type of resource fits into the company’s business model. It is easy to decide to start a blog and even easier to create a professionally designed site that is appealing and informative. The challenge becomes monitoring the activity, frequency and content of the blog to ensure the best value to the company’s bottom line results.

 

4 Value-Added Reasons to Have a Blog

??????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????Are you looking for a way to promote your brand, business or product?  Don’t overlook the value of blogging.  I’m sure as an entrepreneur or small business owner, you are asking “why a blog?” and “who has time to write!”

First, here are a few blogs for you to preview so you can see and understand what I mean:

 

http://marshawnevans.com/blog (promotes personal branding and coaching tips and tools)
http://www.problogger.net/blog (promotes blogging tools and tips)
http://joelcomm.com/blog (shares online and social media tips and tools)

Not convinced yet, well here are 4 value-added reasons you should consider a blog if your goal is to increase your online presence, sell a service or product, or promote your brand:

  1. Easy to get started and update
  2. Liked by the search engines
  3. Automatically creates feeds
  4. Interactive and conversational

In case you were wondering, the term “blog” is short for web log and can be described as an online diary where entrepreneurs can talk about their company, products, and business goals.  It can also be used to share information about industry-related news.  (NOTE:  I will describe and discuss in a later post the value of “microblogging” and “vblogging” and the difference from a regular blog site.)

Blog Creation and Maintenance

Yes, a blog IS a website but it is much easier to create, navigate, and maintain.  You just type your message in (or cut and paste from your Word document), preview, and publish. There is also a feature to upload images, which really adds value to your blog posts.  It really is that simple.  Now, if you are writer you can just type into the post feature which will save you time. However, my suggestion is to write out the article in Word (so you can cut and paste) OR hire someone to write articles, especially industry related information.  As a matter of fact, they don’t have to be long posts but small junks of information so you are not overwhelming your visitors.

If you are a newbie, starting a blog is easy.  For example, Blogger and Word Press both can be started by creating an account and selecting a few choices. Once you become comfortable with your blog and began experimenting (because you will), you will be able to add custom features, such as hosting your blog on your own domain.

Search engine compatibility

Search engines like blogs because they are generally updated regularly and have fresher content. The search engines also like the RSS feeds from blogs. Properly used, feeds can allow you to generate links from other authoritative sites such as Technorati, Feedburner, and others. These high PR sites create backlinks to your site which will make the search engines rate you higher. People can easily subscribe to your feed and know when you have updated your site through various RSS readers.

Community Building

If you are interested in building a community, one of the best advantages of a blog is it encourages dialogue and conversation. I personally use WordPress hosted by
GoDaddy and this platform allows  readers to comment directly on what ??????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????you have written, as well as like and share your information.

Now, the good thing about this is that get additional updated content (which the search engines like) and you get direct feedback on your content. Let’s see, which are you more likely to do? Click a comment link and leave your input on a blog or try and find a way to contact the average webmaster. Even if you do it is usually through a form or email that does not increase the content of the site.

So you’re still not sure about a blog, huh?  You are probably thinking you don’t have time to write articles or log on and post them.  Well, that’s were companies like Own Your Idea and Content Divas can help you in creating quality content that engages your readers.  But first, you have to see the value of having a blog to promote your business, brand, or product.  Me personally, I believe in blogging as another tool to help get you where you want to go, blogging definitely gets my vote. But I want to know your thoughts, or if you have a blog site that you want to share, please include in the comment section below.